Naseh Venishma (Yossi Green)

January 21, 2022

In Parshios Yisro and Mishpatim, the Torah recounts the most important day in history. Had we not accepted the Torah, the world would have ceased to exist. The whole reason the world was created, and the whole reason that it exists till today, is so that we could accept and continuously keep the Torah. I understand this might be considered one of the ABC’s of Yiddishkeit, but it’s good to review this point every so often.

Another integral insight that is worth our attention this week is the fact that each and every one of us, standing there at the foot of the mountain, achieved a level of unity that, to this day, we aspire to reach yet again. Famously, we were, “k’ish echad, b’lev echad,” like one person with one unified heart. It was in this way – together, in perfect harmony – that we accepted the Torah. As we say in our daytime Shabbos zemiros (Yom Shabboson), וּבָאוּ כּוּלָם בִּבְרִית יַחַד נַעַשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמַע אָמְרוּ כְּאֶחָד.

We’ll come back to this in a second.

Chazal describe the Kinor – the handheld, harp-like instrument used by the Leviim to accompany their Shira in the Beis Hamikdash – as consisting of seven strings. We know that these seven strings were tuned to the same seven notes of the musical scale that we use today. Chazal further tell us that when Moshiach will arrive, there will be an additional string added to this instrument. This is alluded to in Sefer Tehillim, where Dovid HaMelech writes “Lamenatzeach al hashminis,” which we are told is, among other things, a reference to this eight-stringed instrument.

This eighth string will be tuned to a transcendental note – a sound that is nonexistent at this time. Many attempts have been made to try to access this “eighth” note, but all to no avail. The eighth note of our current scale is not a new sound at all, but rather is merely a repeat of the first note, albeit in the next octave. Speaking of ABC’s – this would be C…D…E…F…G…A…B…and then C once more. You see?

To this point, I wanted to introduce this week’s song choice. Naseh Venishma was written and sung by the venerated virtuoso Yossi Green on his 2008 album called The 8th Note. The album (and its title track) was named based on Yossi’s theory that this elusive eighth note is not actually a new step on the musical scale at all, but that it is the result of all seven notes played together – simultaneously blended in perfect proportions – producing one exquisite singular sound.

The shminis that is to be played l’asid lavo will come into existence when we once again achieve the great level of achdus that we are truly capable of; a level that we so excellently exhibited when we initially accepted the Torah. When that day comes, the 8th note will be heard; The perfect unity of music, symbolized by the perfect unity of mankind.

R’ Yossi says:
This song was inspired by a vort that I heard from my nephew Moshe Peretz Schwartz in the name of a Tzaddik living in Yerushalayim. The Tzaddik wondered why Yidden have this peculiar way of greeting each other – we say, “Vos Tut Zich? Vos Hert Zich?”
He answered, since we were all together at Har Sinai during Matan Torah and we all answered as one, Na’aseh Venishma! We will do even before we understand! So now, we subtly remind each other of that commitment:
Na’aseh – We will do – Vos Tut Zich? Venishma – And then we will hear and understand – Vos Hert Zich?

Fun fact #1: The tempo of this song is in the odd time signature of 5/4 rhythm, different than that of a typical Jewish song which is normally in 3/4 or 4/4 time. So for this song, it has to be counted as a group of three quarter notes followed by a group of two – as in – one and, two and, three and, one and, two and… Maybe it would be better if you played the song first, and then you’d be able to hear and understand what I mean… נעשה ונשמע style!

Fun fact #2: This song was originally entitled חמשה חומשי הורה but was eventually changed to נעשה ונשמע at some point before the album went to print.

Wishing everyone a unifying Shabbos!

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